The campaign for Fort Wayne's Republican mayoral candidate has taken issue with one of Mayor Tom Henry's many campaign ads, accusing the mayor of intentionally misleading voters regarding Tim Smith's connection to the city.
The specific ad ran on TV and was posted to Facebook Wednesday. In it, Henry accuses Smith of "twisting facts and distorting the truth," and touts the city's bond rating and cites data from Greater Fort Wayne Inc. that states Fort Wayne has one of the lowest tax rates for a city its size, as well as a study from WalletHub that ranked Fort Wayne as one of the country's best-run cities.
"Tim Smith moved into Fort Wayne just over five years ago and now he's running a negative smear campaign for mayor," Henry says, looking directly into the camera. "Maybe where Tim's from, people accept negative campaigns, but in Fort Wayne, we expect better from our candidates."
In a news release Thursday, Joe Knepper, communications director for the Smith campaign, criticized the ad, touching on Smith's contention that the city's long-term debt has increased 230% and that wage growth is much lower than the national average.
"The truth is, Tom Henry knows of Tim's history and deep roots in Fort Wayne; yet he would rather mislead voters than tell the truth in an attempt to hold onto power," he said.
In his statement, Knepper said Smith was born at Lutheran Hospital on Fairfield Avenue in 1968. His family relocated to Texas for three years while his father attended seminary before returning to Allen County. Knepper said Smith was a student at then-IPFW from 1986 to 1990, where he played baseball and worked first at General Motors, followed by Food Marketing.
Following college, Smith stayed in Fort Wayne to work on a congressional campaign and to campaign for former Mayor Paul Helmke, Knepper said, adding that Smith and his wife moved out of Allen County so Smith could attend law school. Knepper said Smith returned to the area in 1994 to start a career at MedPro. Knepper added that Smith has been on several boards over the past 25 years, including Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.